Vodacom Super Rugby
Jake's Brumbies chase record
Jake White (Gallo Images)
Sydney - The Brumbies will be chasing their record-equalling fifth straight Super 15 victory against the Stormers in Cape Town this weekend.
The Canberra-based Brumbies are unbeaten this season under 2007 World Cup-winning Springbok coach Jake White and should they defeat the Stormers on Saturday it will match the club's best-ever campaign start.
The two-time Super Rugby champions lead the overall standings by six points and the Australian conference by 10 in a buoyant start to the southern hemisphere provincial series.
The Brumbies are winning under White with just two established Wallabies - Stephen Moore and Ben Alexander - as opposed to their star-studded Australian rivals, the Reds and the Waratahs.
Scrumhalf Nic White is the biggest injury concern and as a precaution back-up number nine Mark Swanepoel has flown to Cape Town to join the bench if White doesn't play.
The Brumbies will have their hands full containing the Stormers' giant Andries Bekker in the lineouts. Bekker, at 2.08metres (6ft 8in), is the tallest player in the competition.
"If we try to shut Bekker down hopefully it shuts down their whole lineout," said Peter Kimlin, who will move to lock for the Brumbies.
"That's a big thing for their game. If their mauls and lineouts go well, it's a foundation for the rest of their game and if we shut it down, hopefully it can shut down the whole team."
Fit-again Springbok Juan de Jongh will start at outside centre for the Stormers in his first competitive match of the season after a hamstring injury.
All Black Richard Kahui may make his comeback for the defending champion Waikato Chiefs in Friday's New Zealand derby against the Otago Highlanders in Hamilton.
Kahui, 27, has had shoulder reconstruction surgery this season, and is bracketed on the bench with Patrick Osborne.
Liam Messam will be honoured at the game for becoming the first player to clock up 100 matches for the Chiefs.
"We are expecting a similar battle to our first round game against the Highlanders. It was physical and fast and this week will be nothing less," Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said.
The Reds will be without in-form flanker Liam Gill, 20, for Saturday's home game against South Africa's Bulls.
While the Reds will be boosted by the long-awaited return of skipper James Horwill and two Wallabies backs in Digby Ioane and Anthony Faingaa, Gill, who is out with a knee-injury, has consistently been Queensland's best player over the first five rounds.
Wellington-born Jarrad Butler will make his run-on starting debut at openside flanker in Gill's place.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has named an almost new side following last weekend's big loss to the Canterbury Crusaders.
Fullback Zane Kirchner, outside centre JJ Engelbrecht, scrumhalf Jano Vermaak, number eight and captain Pierre Spies, flanker Deon Stegmann and loose head prop Morne Mellett are back in the run-on side.
The Blues are coming off a bye and take on the struggling Waratahs in Sydney on Sunday.
Beaten in three of their four games, NSW face another testing task against the resurgent Blues.
In the weekend's other games, the Crusaders host South Africa's Kings in Christchurch and Western Force tackle the in-form Cheetahs in Perth, while the Hurricanes have a bye.